Stepping Up, Stepping In

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 21, 2010 under Commentary, News | Read the First Comment

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The Texas Legends’ brass have a blueprint for how they’d like to proceed with the team-building process, but in truth, such a schematic is no more helpful than a post-it note full of handy tips. Those at the top of the ladder know what they’re doing, but creating a D-League team from scratch isn’t necessarily a straightforward or predictable process. So much depends on what happens between now and Monday, when the final NBA training camp cuts are announced, and the pool of available players begins to take shape.

The Legends aren’t willing to wait through the weekend, though, as they’ve gotten a head start on constructing their roster thanks to a little institutional help. The D-League’s new player allocation rule allows NBA teams to effectively call dibs on up to three of their final training camp/preseason cuts, which has opened the door for a number of teams to make late camp additions in the name of securing those players’ D-League rights. It’s a terrific strategy for encouraging affiliate utilization, and the Mavs, well-run franchise that they are, have recently tabbed two prospects by way of the D-League’s new allocation system.

Rashad McCants is the first such prospect. McCants has been signed by the Mavs to a non-guaranteed deal, and he will likely play in Dallas’ final preseason game on Friday, primarily as due process for securing McCants’ rights for the Legends. He’s had a pretty strange run since being drafted with the 14th pick in the 2005 draft, and has become a bit of a league punchline for an attitude problem that he may or may not actually have. Still, McCants is an effective scorer by NBA fringe standards, and it’s not hard to envision a day in which his services are again needed. Dallas has worked out McCants before, and this recent signing is likely a product of both McCants’ NBA résumé and that particular workout. He didn’t scare Dallas off then, and could blaze his comeback trail to the NBA from within the Mavericks organization, even if he has to do so from the D-League.

The Mavs are also interested in Sean “Not Shawne” Williams, though it’s unclear if Dallas has officially added him to their preseason roster. Williams’ bad rap is a bit more deserved, as a series of off-court incidents have decorated him in warning labels. Despite his athleticism and shot-blocking success (he’s averaged 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes in his three-year career), Williams couldn’t find an NBA home last season after being waived by the New Jersey Nets. He’s apparently trying to work his way back into the league, and provided he’s willing to play nice — which should hardly be assumed, as Williams’ effort, production, and attitude were all problematic during his first tour through the D (link via Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside) –  he’d be a terrific get for the Legends.

As Marc Stein noted in his report for ESPN, Adam Haluska and Dee Brown are also eligible to be allocated to the Legends should the Mavs deem it so. Personally, I’d go with Brown by default, as he’s managed to do with more his preseason opportunities than Haluska. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brown seek a bigger paycheck overseas, though.

That’s the kicker. With McCants, with Williams, with Haluska and Brown — all of these players will only play for the Legends if they want to play in the D-League at all. Maybe McCants and Williams are convinced that they can wow the Mavs in a single weekend, and have no intent on ever hitting the court in Frisco. It’s a possibility, even if it’s a bizarre one.

Regardless, the Mavs and the Legends are making an effort to take advantage of league rules to the best of their ability. McCants and Williams are legitimate NBA prospects, even if recent developments have nudged them out of their previously cozy roster spots, and the Legends will hold their rights should they get the Mavs’ stamp of approval.